Men are allowed to behave badly

Rape is a crime that hinges on two factors: penetration and consent. Every scenario that involves penetration, where the consent of one individual has not been expressly obtained, will amount to rape.

But there is another set of circumstances that falls within the definition of rape, and that is when the consent of one party is obtained by force, threat or intimidation. If an individual holds a gun to your head and forces you to spread your legs, they cannot later claim that what happened thereafter was consensual.

It’s really that simple. Speaking from a woman’s perspective, if a man has sexual intercourse with you against your will, he has committed the crime of rape. The context within which the rape occurred is irrelevant.

Rape is a crime, full stop.

Even then, whenever a woman accuses a man of rape, folks begin to question the circumstances around the incident, trying to find a socially acceptable reason for the assault.

What was a married woman doing with another man at that time of night? Everyone knows that man had a bad reputation. Why would a woman allow a male masseuse to give her a full body massage? How can woman seek the services of male gynaecologists?

She was so drunk, what did she expect? Maybe, they were having a secret affair and something went wrong. Perhaps she was trying to set him up. Could it have been a business deal gone sour?

Many times, there is an immediate assumption that a survivor of rape must have contributed to her circumstances. As if there is no way a man would rape a woman unless he was provoked.

Men are allowed to behave badly. In fact, it is expected. Women on the other hand are blamed and shamed for putting themselves in harm’s way. When did we become responsible for the violence meted out by our aggressors?

Society – women included – has constructed this flawed notion of manhood that enables rapists to fall back on the abhorrent idea that a man’s self-control cannot stand up to the ‘provocation’ of a woman. As if to say that if he rapes you, it’s your fault. You did something wrong. You should have known better than to place yourself in a situation in which rape was a possible outcome.

I’m sorry, but no woman would willingly place herself in a situation where rape was a possible outcome. Yes, sometime woman are careless – even reckless – with their own personal safety. Sometimes it’s a foolhardiness borne of youth, other times events unfold under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Many times, a woman will find herself in danger without realising that she was headed that way. Maybe she was walking to the bus stop at night, took a wrong turn and found herself in a dark alley. Or perhaps a friend offered to drop her home from a party and then turned violent on the way. A great percentage of women are raped by people they know.

Whatever the case, the route that leads to rape should not have any moral bearing on the rape itself. We should not allow ourselves any room to think in any way, that women can somehow be responsible for the criminal actions of a rapist. That kind of thinking normalises rape, making it less of a crime because the person at fault is also the victim. The truth is that when a man rapes a woman, it’s has nothing to do with the woman and everything to do with the man. End of story.